Aside from seeing beaches, view from mountain decks and tasty delicacies... visiting ancestral houses is one of the many things I look forward when traveling. Simply because I got to see even a bit of what it's like to live in the past and also to hear stories and learned new things from those old houses.
So during my visit in Iloilo City.
I have been blessed and was able to see an 1860-ish house which is now called Camiña Balay Nga Bato. Balay Nga Bato is a two-storey house that showcases an antique/souvenir shop (ground floor) and living area (top floor). A tour to this aged-house would costs you 150 PhP which includes an experience to taste their signature Tsokolate.
How did we got there?Well, it is part of our Ilo Ilo city tour. Our group composed of 9 heads rented out a van for 2,500 and a visit to Balay Nga Bato is part of that itinerary. We met the van owner at the airport of Iloilo.
Price may vary depending on how good you are on haggling and to your itinerary. Our group decided to just rented out a van instead of getting tours from agencies because of two reasons: 1) We don't have to follow any time table. 2) We're the one to decide where we want to go. We just give a list of places we want to visit to the van owner and just let him decide the sequence.
For further details, I will be creating a separate blogpost of our Iloilo city tour.[Going back] As soon as we alight at Balay Nga Bato, the first thing we noticed were the antique wares, textiles and ceramic jars that are well-arranged all over the place. Those wares were either decorations of the house or merchandise of the curio shop. Yes, you can actually buy a piece of our history in this place. Cool, huh?
|Everything in here are for sale!|
We didn't stayed too long at the curio shop as most of us were curious to see the other part of the house.In order to reach the living area of Balay Nga Bato, one must take the so called "Escalera Principal". Based on the owner of the house (which is our tour guide that day), ladies of the past generations walk sideward when going up and down this stair because it is the proper way to do it.
|Pretty neat, huh?|
A room called Oratoryo is one of the highlights in the second floor and located right next to the stair. It is a prayer room and with that, it holds different religious images, books and more antique furniture. This room isn't that big but you can feel some solemness as soon as you walk right through it.
Next is the Sala Mayor or the Grand Sala. I believe this is the second biggest room of the house, next to the dining area. You can see and say that the sala is already old BUT you can also see that it is well-maintained. It's old because of its decorations and furniture.
From the chairs, to its tables, cabinets and even the walls and ceiling... they are all antiques. I commend the owner/s of this house as they really did a great job to preserve the house and the things along with it.
The last room I wanted to highlight is the "Azotea Kumedor". This is the dining area and it is where they serve their signature Tsokolate. Aside from being chocolate-y, Balay Nga Bato's Tsokolate is so thick. They served it with biscocho -Iloilo's famous bread/biscuit, making it a perfect pair.
Dipping biscocho into the hot tsokolate feels sooooo heavenly. I can actually still recall the taste of it as I write this post.Balay Nga Bato can serve other meals but you have to pay extra and need to call them days before your visit.
|I want to taste it again!!!|
There are other interesting parts of the house but I would let you discover them once you visited Balay Nga Bato. Descendants of the Camiña Family still live in it and I hope they still continue to take care of the house and keep it open to the public. Hearing all the stories and seeing the house itself taught us so many things about the past (mostly about Iloilo). It was indeed a worth visit.